Thursday, 26 March 2015

Home Advantage Critical in Women's International Championship Cricket?

With 2 rounds now completed in the ICC Women's International Championship, one particular pattern stands out - home advantage appears to be a significant factor in women's international cricket.

We've seen this with the West Indies - winning 3/0 at home; then losing 3/0 away - and New Zealand too - losing 3/0 away; then winning 2/1 at home.

But the anecdotal evidence is also supported by the stats.

Overall, the home side has won over 70% of the 27 ODIs played, while the away side has won just 22%, with a couple of "No Results" making up the numbers.

England will be hoping the model persists this August against the Southern Stars; but if there's one stat that stands out above even home-field advantage, it's this one:

Australia: Played 6; Won 6; Lost 0!

It is going to be an interesting summer!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Southern Stars - A Mottley Crew

Cricket Australia have announced that Matthew Mott will succeed Cathryn Fitzpatrick as Southern Stars coach for this summer's Women's Ashes in England and beyond.

Mott played men's state cricket in Australia as a middle-order batsman, before embarking on a coaching career in men's cricket which saw him spend 3 seasons at the helm of Glamorgan men in the English* county game; and he has also worked internationally with Ireland men.

He now inherits a women's team which is currently on top of the world and likely to stay there; but it will be interesting to see how he adapts from The Other Game, and if he can bring anything new to the smorgasbord of women's cricket.

* / Welsh!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

County Gossip: Berkshire Move Home & Bag Blackwell

After several years at Wokingham, Berkshire are on the move this season - playing their home games at North Maidenhead and Finchamstead, where more of an intimate village atmosphere will prevail. (Finchamstead in particular is a long way from any public transport links, so if anyone attending matches there needs a lift from the nearest station at Wokingham, let me know!)

The big news for Berks though is the return of Alex Blackwell, who played for The Beavers for one summer in the late 00s. In the intervening years, Blackwell has become something of a bona fide superstar, as well as being an outspoken activist for gay rights; so she'll be a huge asset, although obviously only for the first part of the season before she joins up with the Southern Stars for the Women's Ashes.

One final titbit... Isa Guha is apparently once again officially in the squad - she has only played four matches in the past three years; but as I've speculated before, she may be keeping her eye in for a possible return as she is an obvious candidate to "player-manager" a WICL franchise, should that enterprise come to fruition!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Southern Stars Suffer Fitzpatrick Blow

BIG NEWS this morning - Australia's influential Head Coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick has shockingly quit the role just months before the Women's Ashes in England.

Fitzpatrick was a giant of the game as a player; and as a coach is rightly credited with being a massive part of why the Southern Stars currently hold both World Cups - e,g. it was Fitz's fielding strategies, as much as the slow pitch, which strangled England in the last World T20 Final in Bangladesh.

But having announced that Fitzpatrick will not be renewing her contract in May, Australia will have to go into the Women's Ashes with a new and inexperienced coach; while on an individual level, players like Lanning and Cameron will have to face-up to life without their mentor. It will be a bigger challenge for them than they probably realise; and hands England a wildcard advantage in an Ashes Series which is set to be a test of nerve and steel as much as cricketing ability.

EDIT: The last WWT20 was in Bangladesh, not Sri Lanka!

Random Thoughts On The Academy Squad

England have named a 14-strong Academy squad to travel to UAE for 6 matches against their Australian equivalents, the Shooting Stars.

They are: Tammy Beaumont (C), Steph Butler, Jodie Dibble, Georgia Elwiss (VC), Tash Farrant, Alex Hartley, Amy Jones, Eve Jones, Beth Langston, Sophie Luff, Alex MacDonald, Sonia Odedra, Fran Wilson, & Loz Winfield.

  • TB has retained her position as Academy Captain, but I have to say... I'm not quite sure why! She isn't a candidate for the England captaincy in years to come; so I'm not sure it mightn't have made more sense to give the opportunity to someone who actually may be - e.g. Sophie Luff, who has (if I recall correctly???) previously captained England at junior level.
  • Sonia Odedra is still on the radar; and it isn't difficult to conceive a role for her in this summer's Women's Ashes. Odedra isn't as fast as some; but she has a reliable stock delivery and an aggressive quicker ball; so should England suffer injuries to Brunt and Shrubsole (not the most unlikely scenario) she could be the one to step in, especially with the Test happening after the ODIs.
  • As WCB has noted, the omission of Danni Wyatt is interesting. My understanding is that Wyatt was given to believe that she would go on this trip, having had precious-little opportunity in New Zealand; so my guess is that either she is crocked, or the coaches believe that they will get more benefit working with her in the nets at Loughborough. (I can't believe she has dropped out of the picture entirely - that would make no sense at all, with England so short on "Strike Rate" batting.)
  • Amy Jones has to keep wicket on this tour - England need her to be ready to step in in case Taylor is injured this summer. And presumably this is the intention, which is why Carla Rudd has been left at home - the Berkshire keeper has done nothing wrong, but Amy-J needs mitten-time.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Stars To WBBL: Our Team; Our Rules

BBL's Melbourne Stars have issued a shot across the bows of Cricket Australia over who controls the mooted WBBL franchises.

Cricket Australia have previously said that they expect to control the WBBL teams and decide who plays where, presumably to mitigate the risk of one or two franchises snapping up all the best players and ruining the tournament as a competitive spectacle.

But reading between the lines of an interview with Jesse Hogan in the Sydney Morning Herald, Stars Chief Exec Clint Cooper has basically told Cricket Australia that if the Women's team are going to share the Stars brand and the Stars uniform, then it will be on the Stars terms, not CA's; and one of those terms is that the Stars handle player recruitment and management themselves.

The path to WBBL was never going to be plain-sailing, but with tensions already coming to the fore, what happens off the field could be as fascinating as what happens on it; and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

County Gossip: Middlesex Move Into New Era With Wilson & Westbury

Middlesex's run to the T20 Finals last year was powered by a team spirit that comes partly from underdog status - with no "pros" or current internationals, little was expected of them. Things will be somewhat different in north London this season.

Izzy Westbury, who joined the county just last season, after finishing uni having being out of the top-level game for a couple of years, has been promoted to the captaincy; and has also joined the Middlesex CCC staff on a "nearly" full-time basis, as a coach working to promote girls' cricket in local schools. This doesn't quite make her a "pro" in the sense that the England players are; but she is now no longer an "am" either, and she'll have expectations to deal with that weren't there before.

Westbury has spent the winter out in Australia, where she has been working hard on her white ball action; and rumours are also rife that sports shops all over Oz have mysteriously sold out of headbands... but we can only speculate as to why...!!!

The Meatballs have also strengthened their batting by bringing in England's Fran Wilson. Wilson doesn't have an England "pro" contract but she's been a member of the squad for a while, and has played a handful of ODIs. She has been one of the most consistent performers in Division 2, playing for Somerset, where she has averaged around 40 the past two seasons; and she'll be hoping to step-up and make a play for a role in England's middle-order, as the selector's thoughts turn towards the Women's World Cup in 2017.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

County Gossip: Sussex Bulk Up Bowling

After a disappointing 5th-placed finish in last year's Women's County Championship, Sussex are looking to put a better spin on the new season, with the signing of Aussie off-spinner Erin Osborne; and the return of England leftie Holly Colvin.

Osborne, who will be with the county for the first half of the season, before joining up with Australia's Women's Ashes party, has over 100 international wickets; and played in both of Australia's recent ODI and T20 World Cup wins.

Colvin, with 174 international wickets to her name, is already a legend; and holds one record - youngest England international - which now we are into a new professional era, will probably never be broken.

Holly took a break from cricket last year, though she played a couple of charity matches; but now she's back, and England fans (and no doubt the selectors too) will be watching carefully! Will she play for her country again? She has modestly told friends that she doesn't know; but she's a competitor, who wants to perform at the very highest level, so as the Americans say... you do the math!!

With Sarah Taylor in imperious form with the bat on England's recent tour of New Zealand, Sussex will be feeling optimistic about the new season; but Taylor will need to play responsibly if Sussex are to challenge Kent for what could be the last ever Women's County Championship title.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Surrey To Host Pemberton Greenish Cup at The Oval

Surrey have announced that the inaugural Pemberton Greenish Cup - an annual T20 contest between Middlesex and Surrey - will be played at The Oval on Monday 18 May.

Surrey came second in last year's Women's County Championship. Their star player is England all-rounder Nat Sciver, who recently hit the winning runs for her country in their ODI series in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Middlesex - finalists in last year's T20 Cup - are led by their new captain Izzy Westbury and also boast the talents of England's Fran Wilson; Cath Dalton, one of the fastest bowlers in women's cricket; and hard-hitting batsman Sophia Dunkley.

Entry will be free; and though the start time is "To Be Confirmed" you'd assume it would be after school, so bring the kids and make a night of it!

Women's Ashes Tickets Still a Bargain

If you want to go to every day of the 2015 Women's Ashes, it will cost the apocryphal family of four £260. That sounds like quite a lot; until you remember that it's 10 days of cricket; and attending just one day of the Men's Ashes will set you back something approaching that!

And... no insult to England's men's team... but the Women's Ashes will probably actually be competitive!

(And you get a men's match thrown in for free on the very last day, which is a double-header; though don't worry, you don't have to stay for it!)

So get your tickets and bring the family. (And if you see me there, say hi!)

Women's Ashes Ticket Links

Tickets are now on sale for the 2015 Women's Ashes - links below:

* Not on sale, at time of writing!